Atletico Madrid 2-1 Alaves: Saul Niguez and Diego Costa on target to boost the top three spot with a win the Wanda Metropolitano.
Atletico Madrid took a big step towards sealing Champions League qualification as they defeated Deportivo Alaves in a 2-1 LaLiga win at Wanda Metropolitano.
After a low-key start to Saturday’s contest, a Saul Niguez header just before the hour mark put the hosts in front.
Joselu scored a stoppage-time penalty for the visitors, but Atletico are now four points clear of Sevilla in fourth and have opened up a superb nine-point cushion over Getafe in fifth.
Jose Maria Gimenez put a free header over from 12 yards and, despite their opponents defending deeply, it was Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak who had the only first-half save to make from Aleix Vidal.
Diego Simeone brought on Costa and Llorente early in the second half as he attempted to inject life into the hosts and the latter made an instant impression, winning a free-kick down the right.
Kieran Trippier sent in a fine delivery and the onrushing Saul converted with a thumping header from six yards for his fourth goal of the season, keeper Fernando Pacheco getting a hand to it but unable to make the save.
Alaves almost leveled when a powerful aerial effort from Oliver Burke flew inches wide, but Atleti soon threatened at the other end when Llorente’s long-range effort forced Pacheco to parry.
Llorente then showed superb pace and skill down the right before drawing a foul from Ruben Duarte, with Costa sending Pacheco the wrong way from the spot 17 minutes from time.
Three minutes into added time, Joselu sent a fine penalty into the top corner after Koke was penalized for handball, but it was too late for the visitors to recover.